Wednesday 19 June 2019

Quartet of local farmers short-listed for prestigious Bord Bia 'green' awards

Bill Browne

Four farms from across the north and mid-Cork regions have been recognised under a national awards scheme that holds up sustainable farming practices as a model for others to replicate.

The quartet are among nine farms from across County Cork to be short-listed in the 2018 Bord Bia Origin Green Farmer Awards in recognition of their consistently high standards in the areas of food safety, animal welfare and traceability. 

Paul O'Brien from Glenville, one of 12 finalists in the beef element of the scheme, was short-listed for an award under the 'dairy calf to beef' category. 

Paul - who runs his farm along with his wife, Julia; and sons, Oliver (8) and Jack (4) - was recognised as one of the top performers in the country in terms of carbon footprint, biodiversity and water quality. 

Peter Murphy from Ballydesmond and Pat and Audrey Dennehy from Kilbrin were short-listed as dairy finalists in the 'small to medium herd' and 'large herd' categories respectively, while Trevor Crowley was nominated in the 'reduced carbon footprint' category for his work, his Lissarda farm.

The 15 dairy finalists all represent different co-ops, each of which also participate in the Origin Green programme. Under the programme, Ireland became the first country in the world to audit and carbon footprint its livestock farms, currently at a rate of more than 650 per week, creating what is, in effect, a national scheme providing measurement and feedback to farmers on sustainable practices. 

Bord Bia Chief Executive Tara McCarthy said the 27 finalists across the beef and dairy sectors were selected from the more than 67,000 farms that are members of the Sustainable Beef and Lamb, and Sustainable Dairy assurance schemes.  She said they had each been visited by the judging panel.

"Each finalist exhibited an inherent understanding of the importance and relevance of implementing strategies to promote safe working systems; increase energy efficiency; and protect and enhance biodiversity and the farm environment through the use of modern technologies allied with good old-fashioned agricultural practices," she said.

Ms McCarthy said the finalists were already recognised within the industry as being "among the very best" and represent the "most efficient farmers in the country".

"Their commitment to sustainable production through the Origin Green programme and their willingness to have their achievements judged by a panel of experts show their ambition to be the best and help make the Irish food and drink industry a world leader," said Ms McCarthy. 

"These are the farmers Bord Bia will be looking to when we are demonstrating to food buyers the solid foundations on which the industry has been built and why is it sustainable into the future," she added.

The award winners will be celebrated during a ceremony taking place  this week at The Heritage Hotel, Killenard, County Laois.